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2022 AFC Divisional Round Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills

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(Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports)

2022 AFC Division Round Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills

The AFC Divisional Round matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills is a rematch of their ill-fated week 17 matchup. The winner of this game will clinch a berth in the AFC Championship game. All eyes will be on the two young stallions at Quarterback: Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. But there are a plethora of other matchups that will make this game must-see tv. With that being said, I will break down three reasons why each team will win, followed by my prediction. 

Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) Buffalo Bills (13-3) 

Sunday, Jan. 22, 3:00 p.m. CBS 

Why The Bengals Will Win 

1. Keep It Clean 

One thing that has stood out with Josh Allen this year has been the number of interceptions thrown. Coming off the 2020 season where he threw 10, he has thrown 15 in 2021 and 14 here in 2022, but the interceptions this year have come in what feels like more prominent spots.

Meanwhile, Burrow has thrown 12 interceptions this year, including the horrific start he had in Week 1 against Pittsburgh. If Cincinnati can play clean football and not turn the ball over, they will have a shot. 

2. Make Buffalo Run

Remember the Super Bowl last year where we all cooked Eli Apple all night for how awful he played, really the secondary as a whole? The Bengals heard that and said fair play but watch this. This year, the Bengals rank third in the NFL in passing touchdowns allowed with 17. Shutting down Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis will force Buffalo to lean on James Cook and Devin Singletary.

3. Keep Burrow Upright

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line is in ROUGH shape going into this AFC Divisional Round matchup. The Bengals did invest in *some* help up front for Burrow, but the reinforcements are not there come Sunday. If Cincinnati wants any chance of being in this game, they have to hold up to this pass rush of the Bills.  

Why The Bills Will Win 

1. Make Life Miserable for Burrow 

Off of my previous statement, the Bills should be looking to bring the pressure all night long against a makeshift offensive line the Bengals will deploy. Not having Von Miller hurts, obviously, but they have some guys who are more than able to get in the backfield.

Cincinnati allowed 44 sacks on the year, which shows even with some upgrades up front they still aren’t doing a great job protecting Burrow.

 2.  Let James Cook, well, cook 

Cook seems to be snatching the starting job away from Singletary. At this point in the year, winning a job either means you’re playing very well, or your opposition isn’t. Both can be true, and it is here.

Cook out-touched Singletary 12-10 in their wild-card matchup with Miami, but this goes back further. He out-touched Singletary 11-8 in their regular-season finale against New England. Ken Dorsey must like what he’s seeing, and I would put him to work.

It will be tough sledding, however, as the Bengals have allowed the fifth-lowest yards all season to running backs.  

3. Simplify the Passing Gameplan 

Again, touching on something I mentioned earlier. Allen has been an interception machine this year. The Bengals have been stout in pass defense. Solution? Quick short to mid-range passes quick reads, get the ball out quickly. Testing Jessie Bates down the field might not go too well.

Keep it simple, stupid.  

Prediction 

Without the emotional baggage this game will be carrying into it with the Damar Hamlin situation, this would be pretty evenly matched. However, Hamlin has been at the Bills facility this week and I can imagine the organization will bring him out pre-game to get the crowd and team hyped up. They can’t lose if this happens.

It’s Bills all the way.

Final score: Bills 27-Bengals 17 

***

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